To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent discussions she has had with universities on mental health safety for students.
The mental health and wellbeing of young people is high a priority for this government. It is crucial that students get the mental health and wellbeing support they need to allow them to flourish at university.
The department engages regularly with the higher education (HE) sector on the mental health of university students and works closely to ensure that effective practice is funded and shared more widely. This engagement is supported by Vice-Chancellor Edward Peck, who was appointed earlier this year as HE's first ever Student Support Champion. Edward Peck works closely with ministers and officials, and provides sector leadership to promote effective practice in areas such as mental health and information sharing,
The Office for Students (OfS) works with the HE sector to ensure providers have the necessary funding and tools to support the mental health of their students. Through annual strategic guidance to the OfS, the department asked that the OfS distributes £15 million of funding in the 2022/23 financial year to give additional support for transitions from school or college to university, and through targeting funding to support partnership working with NHS services to provide students with a pathway of care to local mental health services. This strategic guidance is available at: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/media/bb422aae-54fb-42c8-b5db-26e7ed48df80/strategic-priorities-grant-20220331_amend.pdf.
This government strongly supports the University Mental Health Charter, which is led by Student Minds. The Charter brings together universities to share effective practice and create cultural change around mental health. Programme members can work towards the Charter Award, which recognises those universities that demonstrate excellent practice in supporting student mental health. The department has written to all providers to make clear our ambition that they all sign up to the mental health charter programme by the end of 2026. The Charter is accessible at: https://www.studentminds.org.uk/charter.html.
The department has recently surveyed HE providers about their policies and practices to support student wellbeing and mental health. The study will gather sector wide insights on specific activities in this area and broad evidence on the overall approach to supporting students across HE. 179 providers have responded to this survey and results are due to be published in spring 2023.